Did You Get Married To Be Happy?
Recently I’ve come across several articles that have aimed to describe the point of marriage. Why do we get married? What do we get out of it? Do we expect too much? Do our expectations need to be altered so that we are viewing the goal of marriage in a more realistic lens?
I say, absolutely! Often times when working through issues in therapy with couples, unrealistic expectations are the underlying cause for much of the turmoil in the relationship. Specifically, many people believe that marriage equals HAPPINESS. If we carry this faulty belief with us throughout our marriage, we are destined to expect our partner to literally live to make us happy. And what happens then – yikes!! We are constantly disappointed when we realize – life and marriage doesn’t work like this. This belief leads to loneliness, anger, sadness, endless irritability as we strive to make this belief “real” while watching our vision of marriage blow up as we stand by and watch.
In reality, there is no ONE person who will always make you happy, never trigger you, never make you question your relationship, yourself, and be easy, uncomplicated and “complete” you. In reality, “happily ever after” doesn’t really exist and marriage can feel like anything BUT pure bliss. If happiness is waxing and waning constantly (which is the nature of happiness – we can’t possibly feel happy non-stop!), then how is it something to base our most important relationship on? It’s just not feasible.
That sounds a little scary and unstable. But it’s not as scary as risking not diving into the depths of vulnerability and change with another human being even when it means we have to expose sides of ourselves that we don’t want to (and choose to accept sides of someone else that we don’t like!) This is the real goal of marriage – GROWTH! Staying stagnant and pretending to be happy is unfortunately what many couples choose – and at the point of calling for therapy, sometimes they’ve finally decided that that’s just not good enough. I commend you, couples! Because there’s a good chance you will feel closer and stronger in just a few months, despite it being really hard at first. Good marriages force personal growth, they make us look in the mirror, they allow us to challenge our spouse, they breed apologies, they are full of struggle and sensitivity, flaws and conflict, but a deep commitment and willingness to go through the hard truths in order to gain true intimacy. There is nothing better than being truly heard and seen for who you are, and still respected and loved by a spouse who whenever possible, will do their best to meet your needs.
One of my colleagues (Irene Schreiner from Solid Foundations Therapy, a fabulous practice in Downers Grove, IL) once taught me that true intimacy is like building a muscle. You must stretch it, hurt it, break it down in order for it to get bigger and stronger. This has stuck with me and influences the work we do with couples because it’s simple and true. If you’re willing to accept this, you will do wonderful things in your relationship!
If you need to adjust expectations in your relationship and learn the skills to resolve conflict and have healthy communication, don’t hesitate to call or email for an appointment (or free 15 minute consultation!) today. We look forward to hearing from you!